Friday, June 5, 2009

Blast at mosque in Pakistan kills 10

An explosion at a mosque killed 10 people during Friday prayers, while a roadside bomb killed four soldiers in Pakistan's tribal belt — the latest violence to rock the country's northwest as the army says it is beating back the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

The attacks came as U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke met with top Pakistani officials after evaluating the plight of some of the nearly 3 million Pakistanis made refugees by the Swat offensive. Hundreds trying to return home to Swat on Friday were stopped by troops.

Pakistani leaders insist they are serious about wiping out militancy in Swat, a one-time tourist haven that largely fell under Taliban control over the past two years. The U.S. backs the operation and sees it as a test of the government's resolve in taking on al-Qaida and Taliban militants along the Afghan border region.

The generally broad public support in Pakistan for the operation, however, could falter if militant violence spikes in reaction. There already have been attacks in major cities such as Peshawar and Lahore that officials suspect were revenge by the militants for Swat.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the mosque attack in the Haya Gai area of Upper Dir, a rough and tumble district next to Swat, said police official Imran Khan. It was unclear what sort of mosque it was and whether sectarian differences played a role.

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